The Scarlet

International Orientation: A Review

The good, the bad, and the repetitive

Peer Advisors and Volunteer Coordinators for Week One

Peer Advisors and Volunteer Coordinators for Week One

Clark University Campus Life

Clark University Campus Life

Peer Advisors and Volunteer Coordinators for Week One

Maya Hough, Scarlet Staff

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Coming to Clark, I was nervous, excited, and a little bit apprehensive. I was used to fresher’s week at my home university back in England, which revolved around club nights and drinking games as a means to make friends (not so much endorsed by the university, but definitely expected). I wasn’t sure of what I was going into, especially coming in as an exchange student rather than a freshman. I had a grasp on the basics of university life but had no idea if they transferred to American college, or whether it was a totally different experience.

That being said, I actually enjoyed orientation, something I didn’t really expect. We arrived earlier than other first years, greeted with warm welcomes and queues to fill in forms. Everyone was enthusiastic, excited to meet us and let us into their Clark experience.

As I’m sure every Clark student knows, orientation is filled with introductory games to get you involved in your group. I was dreading this. As the only student in my group who was transferring from a different university, I had already done my fair share of games and fun facts. However, I will confess that by the end of the first couple of days, I was more into “Wah” – spelling debatable – than I would have expected. Just call me “Wah” champion, thanks. This is owed mainly to my PAs; they understood how full on orientation could be, especially in a new country where jetlag ruled our lives for the first week or so, but they remained energetic and friendly. I have since stopped for many a conversation with former PAs in passing on campus.

Orientation for international students starts on the Monday of Week One, spans until the Thursday, and then we join the other students in the normal orientation days. This led to one of the large negative aspects – I was exhausted. Meeting a new group of people after already dealing with four consecutive 12-hour days was a challenge, and talking to other international students, this was definitely the case across the board. Talks about law, paperwork, and health proved important but tiring, and combined with sleepless jet-lag nights, keeping spirits up was an effort.

As regular orientation began, two things became clear. I was put in a transfer-student group and was immediately more comfortable: we had all experienced university/college in some form before, so weren’t alien to college life. Our PA understood this, opting for more laidback icebreakers, while remaining enthusiastic. The second realization, however, was the repetitive nature of many compulsory talks. Sitting through talks that I had experienced just two days before in International Orientation did not feel like the most valuable use of my time, when I was still yet to fully unpack or decorate.

As someone who was dreading orientation (or as I labelled it “mandatory fun”), I ended Week One with a feeling of acceptance, and that I was somewhere welcoming and warm. People were so willing to help, to get us involved, and it helped that big move to another country be so much less daunting. It was tiring, exhausting even, my neck was sunburned, and I had blisters, but I admit, it was a good time. There were a couple teary eyed days, and repeated talks, but I came away knowing that there were people I could stop and say “Hi!” to on campus, I was safe here, that I wasn’t alone in my time abroad, and that Clark would be there for anything I need. Plus, I got a free t-shirt, so I’d call that a success.  


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International Orientation: A Review